Hawick cafe banging drum for cosiness

Assistant manager Ross Reid, barista David Reid and manager Iris Deiss at Damascus Drum in Hawick.
Assistant manager Ross Reid, barista David Reid and manager Iris Deiss at Damascus Drum in Hawick.

A Hawick business with a Middle East feel has reason to bang the drum after being named among the 15 cosiest cafes in Scotland.

Christopher and Frances Ryan opened Damascus Drum in Silver Street in a former cobbler’s shop in 2005.

They restored the premises, dating back to 1881, retaining most of its original features, including its wood-panelled walls, and its floor was renewed using reclaimed boards from the town’s Pringle woollen mill.

The business, also a second-hand bookshop, has now received the accolade of being named one of the 15 cosiest cafes in a list compiled by the Glasgow-based Herald on Sunday newspaper.

Christopher, an Irish-Australian, said: “I designed it to be the kind of place that I would want to live in myself and invite my friends to, with a nice living room, study, cosy rooms, bookshelves and lots of wood and nice Turkish rugs.

“I first came to Hawick in 1973 and stayed for a time. I went away but I was always coming back, and around 2000 we decided to move here permanently.

“We’d run restaurants before, so we decided this would be a nice way to take part in the town. At the time there weren’t many coffee shops, certainly not of the style we did.

“I’ve been a bibliophile all my life and my wife got fed up with the number of books in the house, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to keep the books and rotate them.”

There’s been a big increase in the number of cafes in Hawick in the 13 years since Damascus Drum opened, but Christopher isn’t concerned about that competition.

He added: “Competition is always healthy. There’s nobody like us, so we have a very good loyal clientele who like what we do. I don’t see the other cafes as a threat, more as a complement as people like choice.”

The bibliophile and author’s second novel, Satanaya and the Houses of Mercy, is being launched at the Cornucopia Room at 4 Towerdykeside in Hawick at 6pm on Friday, December 7.

Other cafes in the top 15 list for cosiness include Fortitude Coffee in York Place in Edinburgh, For Fika Sake in Keith Street, Glasgow, and Kilau Coffee in Aberdeen High Street.

To see the full list, go to www.heraldscotland.com/news/17262002.scotlands-15-best-cosy-coffee-shops